Dump still home to thousands of scrap cars

| 04/06/2021 | 68 Comments
Cayman News Service
Derelict vehicles at the dump

(CNS): Thousands of derelict vehicles are still dominating the work of the Department of Environmental Health at the George Town landfill, even as restrictions on the number of scrap cars accepted at the dump each day have been introduced. Decontaminating the vehicles by stripping out oil, other noxious fluids and batteries before crushing and bailing them to be shipped overseas remains a major component of the recycling going on at the dump, which includes recovering almost 95% of the motor oil that is imported here.

Recycling efforts still include mulching, type 1 and 2 plastics, metal cans and, when rain does not contaminate it, paper and cardboard. Dart is crushing and recycling all of the glass, which, not counting the vehicles, still only accounts for around 1% of the rubbish that Cayman tosses out everyday.

While much more could be recycled, the current facilities do not provide for much expansion of recycling, especially given how much of the DEH staff’s time is taken up dealing with scrap vehicles. There are thousands of cars at the dump that staff continue to work on to make safe and ship off island, some of which have been there for decades. But the derelict vehicles keep on coming. DEH officials pointed out that eventually, all of the vehicles that Cayman imports end up being their problem.

DEH Director Richard Simms told the media on Thursday during a press tour of the site that the landfill staff had been receiving at least 50 cars every single day before they imposed the ten per day limit, which has allowed them time to make the cars coming in safe through decontamination and reduce the risk of fires breaking out in the scrap area.

Simms explained that continuing to allow the endless stream of scrap cars to pile up before the team can empty them of potential fire hazards was a major problem. But based on the current vehicle registration figures, there are about 8,000 vehicles around the islands that have been off the road lawfully for more than six months, and potentially all of them could be ready to be scrapped.

“Where would we find space for another 8,000 vehicles right now?” Simms asked rhetorically, as he outlined the realities of this mounting problem. “It’s a massive operation that goes on every day.”

The removal of motor oil from the derelict vehicles not only helps with safety issues and reduces fire risk, it helps add to the one area of major success for recycling in Cayman, which is the collection of oils.

“We recycle around 95% of the motor oil that comes into the islands,” said Angello Roye, the acting operations manager. He explained that all local garages work with the DEH to bring in used oil, as do drivers servicing their own vehicles, which, combined with the oil that they take from the scrap vehicles, means very little ends up contaminating the environment. “This is something we can be proud of in the area of recycling.”

Roye said the department recycles around 120,000 gallons a year and that includes cooking oil that people bring to the drop-off site. However, he said he did not think the public was aware of this additional recycling element because there is no drop-off at the district depots, just at the landfill entrance. Nevertheless, he encouraged everyone to bring their used cooking oil, which ends up in the United States, where it is cleaned up and recycled to become bio-fuel or reused in other household products made from oil.

The tyres from derelict vehicles as well as the many thousands of tyres brought in to the dump are also now recycled. The rubber is shredded and used in marl and fill at both the dump and by the construction sector.

The DEH is urging people to properly recycle car batteries. These also present a major safety hazard, which is why the team removes all batteries from derelict cars. But other batteries, such as lithium cells in computers and laptops, have caused some of the fires at the dump after finding their way into the main garbage collection.

The various issues at the dump are well documented. However, the previous administration signed a contract for a comprehensive solution with Dart, which has begun remediating the existing landfill and opened the public consultation for an environment impact assessment for the waste-to-energy facility and the expansion of the recycling programmes. But in this next phase, the focus will only move Cayman up from the bottom tier to the second from bottom tier of the garbage management policy pyramid.

It is apparent that the absence of any general policies relating to the very top of the pyramid, to reduce and reuse, have resulted in the major problems presented by the derelict vehicles. Although the last two PPM administrations claimed that its garbage policy was being informed by the pyramid, over the eight years the top two tiers were completely neglected. No laws or inducements have ever been introduced to try to curtail imports of anything and certainly not cars, despite the broad detrimental impact they are having on life here.

On the campaign trail, Premier Wayne Panton and other members of PACT proposed the idea of reducing the amount of cars coming into Cayman by preventing work permit holders from importing cars during the first few years of their stay. But right now, the number of vehicles the DEH is dealing with at the landfill illustrates how failing to ‘reduce’ the production of garbage has created a huge problem in just one area of Cayman’s excessive consumption of material goods.

See more on CNS next week about what Cayman is and is not recycling and what the future holds for the recycling programme.

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Category: Environmental Health, Health

Comments (68)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Not including the illegally dumped derelict NRA heavy equipment off Crewe Road.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Get a fleet of self driving Tesla cars, have them all available via an app. Allowing multiple pick ups on the way to a destination. All solar charged so energy neutral. Make it illegal with high punishment to use any other vehicle for transport.

    Solves two problems:

    Environmental damage from dumped cars and old stinky cars
    Traffic congestion would be a thing of the past as would accidents

    yeah it may cost millions of dollars to set up, but still cheaper than trying to deal with these issues I’d wager.
    Plus we’d be an island that’s healthier, happier, safer and setting a precedent for future countries to adopt.

    I’ll call Elon.

    • Anonymous says:

      Elon is a destruction to all that he touches.
      He bought Tesla, with his family’s money from gem mining.
      He slaves children to build his batteries and buys out government people.
      Destroys markets with meme posting.

      Plenty more do some research.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve heard this is not true, he was raised in poverty by a single mother.

        However I agree about destruction of the planet with his projects.
        “ Beyond the operational risks, building, launching and maintaining such a gigantic network of satellites would require an enormous amount of raw materials and energy. .. To follow and connect to them [satellites], buyers will have to use purpose-built phased array antennas. To make them affordable, they would have to be mass produced, and SpaceX has asked permission for 1 million of them. For starters…. More troublingly, competitors are sharpening their knives. Kuiper is backed by Amazon, OneWeb by billionaire Greg Wyler, and Hongyan is Chinese. Just as with electrical scooters, investors are rushing into massive production, and the results could be disastrous.”


      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not questioning his character though, I’m making a suggestion. Albeit dumb according to the dislikes

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignoring the fact that these self driving cars don’t actually work yet, no. Try hundreds of millions of dollars and vastly more expensive than simply crushing and shipping off island to scrap. Jeez, you livin in lala land!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Gather together a few Cubans and Jamaicans, and I’m sure the derelict cars would soon be roadworthy again. Better these refurbs than importing new cars.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just wondering, is someone who imports a cheap car and keeps it on the road for 6 years worse than someone who buys a new car every other year and writes off the odd one? Also where do the 40 cars a day go that are being turned away from the dump? PS I know that answer!

    Maybe they should mandate that any car brought to the dump has the oil drained and batteries removed…got to speed up the processing?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is basic. A sliding scale of import duty, starting at a higher rate the older the vehicle in question, is all that is needed.

  6. Anonymous says:

    An example:
    Do I want the stress of driving from Naples, FL to Miami airport? No. That is why public/private transportation exists. $9-25 for 2.5 hours ride in a comfortable bus (Flixbus) or $55 in a shared shuttle is very affordable.

    Cayman has no public or 1st world private transportation. People left with no choice, but to drive cars.

  7. Anonymous says:

    More to come……….

  8. Dumpster says:

    At long last a major issue of public concern and not a single commenter has blamed the Governor. Despite all the errors in spelling and grammar we are improving in some areas.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Until we have reliable public transportation that doesn’t cost as much as rent on island nothing will change.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wow what a beautiful view and safe area to be next to. They should build a school and townhouses and a medical centre next to it !

  11. Darlene Mckenzie says:

    With no disrespect. Help reduce the cars by stopping the worker permit holders from buyin vehicles in the cayman islands and importing vehicles too the cayman islands and selling them. Stacking up the money and sending it back too their countries.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was full of disrespect

    • Anonymous says:

      Provide a first world public transport system and then maybe we wouldn’t have these issues. right now we have maniac Jamaican minibus drivers doing twice the speed limit, threatening anybody that complains about them, and getting tip offs from their Jamaican friends in the compromised police force so they can dodge the consequences of their actions.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is very ignorant Darlene. It’s not just expats bringing in cars, it’s everyone, including us Caymanians (assuming you are by the tone of the post).

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the lowest earning among us need to be exploited even more. We won’t allow them to drive cars or send any money off island. Maybe we shouldn’t pay them at all and make them live in a barracks surrounded by razor wire. There’s nothing disrespectful about that, right Darlene?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Something Alden / Sabrinas district and the dump have in common.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The number of cars being imported every day has not been a secret. The average lifespan of these vehicles has not been a secret. The failure of the government generally to prepare for the inevitable volume of vehicles needing to be handled is but one example of the sheer incompetence of elements of the public sector. Any accountability?

  14. Vigilante says:

    It seems pointless to try to resolve the recycling issues arising from 1000’s of scrapped cars unless CIG looks at the start of the problem, ie with the constant importation of cars by residents and businesses alike. Cayman’s policy of multiple cars per household with no rules on unlicensed cars is coming home to roost right there at Mt DEH. Solution: 1. Limit two cars per household, licensed or not, and if you want to replace one you must pay to have it recycled at the dump; 2. Only dealers can import cars, and those must be new. Simple, but not easy, as it requires testicular fortitude on the part of those elected to govern and manage these islands…

    • Anonymous says:

      Only caveat – provide public transportation as an alternative. Lot of people in Cayman – local and I spat – can’t afford a 5 year old car, let alone be that comes with a recycling fee.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be a car dealer. What a stupid suggestion. Think about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only people contributing to this problem in any measurable capacity are the Jamaicans and their friends. If they didn’t get tip offs from their police friends they would be considerably less maniacal driving around like they have nothing to live for.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s all the Jamaicans’ fault that all these cars ended up at the dump because they drive like maniacs? SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Vigilante,

      I see some flaws in your suggestion. What will happen to those already that have multiple cars on their property e.g. the uber wealthy such as schiling and his plethora of vehicles? Granted, a 2021 sports car won’t be in the dump anytime soon for sure, but I’m just curious to see govt trying to impose that on the wealthy elite.

      Another thing, for importation of older vehicles, are we (persons on island) not paying a waste disposal fee of approx $1100-1300 or so?

      No snark in my reply, just genuinely curious.

      • Vigilante says:

        Point taken, perhaps the big bucks boys pay big fees to have extra vehicles? I know in Bermuda the right to own a car is related to the right to occupy an apartment or house, and each livable unit gets an “assessment number” that is allowed one car to registered against it. Perhaps we do the same here but allow two cars per assessment number. If Frank wants to own more than that then he pays fees for the right to do so, and those fees are used for recycling of old cars at the dump. Bermuda precludes used imports to encourage the recycling of existing used cars. Also, all unlicensed cars automatically become illegal and must be licensed or recycled!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Million dollars view!

  16. D says:

    All vehicles that are imported have been assessed a disposal fee that covers this cost. Just because they haven’t been processing the vehicles and the back log is now taking up too much time should not be an issue for people trying to dispose of derlick vehicles.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Don’t we pay a vehicle disposal fee on importation? Where does that money go?

    • Anonymous says:

      They spent it like they spent the tire disposal levy. In any case, if you think the cost of disposing of a vehicle is anywhere near the fee imposed in importation you need your head examined. It was always just an excuse for skimming another few dollars without any intention of dealing with the consequences.

  18. Anonymous says:

    And there’s 15 more in peoples yards here in Bodden Town in just one small sub development. The number island wide must be staggering.

  19. GT Voter says:

    Limit the importation of vehicles to not more than five years old.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or 30+ years old.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s racist

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a good idea -IF you then have a useable public transportation system. Otherwise you are simply denying transportation to the working class and poor.

      • Anonymous says:

        Chicken and egg problem. If the demand is created the private sector will fill the void, with government subsidy if necessary. The starting point is to reduce access to cars.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. Just charge meaningful amounts on top of import duty. A flat CI$5,000 recycling fee to cover the cost of ultimate disposal should sort things out pretty quickly.

    • Anonymous says:

      ……sounds like a mouthpiece for the vested interests who make the most money from the car business……

    • Anonymous says:

      ….crazy idea – what are young and/or poor people to do – how will they afford their (first) car….?

      All cars imported onto the island have to pass inspection….that means they are fit for purpose…..

      What is your angle in all of this? Who do you represent – the big car sales companies?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Added to the thousands more illegally dumped and ignored by those with the authority to prosecute.

  21. Anonymous says:

    DEH is an upside down garbage pyramid. And our politicians have sat watching this mess grow for over 30 years. All politicians that were elected to office over the same time period need to fork out of their own pockets for the WtE plant since they have continually shown dereliction in their duty to responsibly deal with solid waste. Will it get better? Maybe in another 30 years.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Must be Dart’s fault.

  23. Anonymous says:

    So if the volume of vehicles being scrapped is a problem, why don’t we limit the importation of more vehicles – say on a one for one basis.

    • Anonymous says:

      In Bermuda it was impossible to get a new (new to you used car) car without a wait (1 year?) unless you had your old one cut in half. Stopped all the 2nd hand vehicles parked up every where ‘for sale’.
      Also only one car per household – not one (or more) for every driver. Mind you, their public transport (ferries & busses) are world class.

      • Anonymous says:

        You people are as bad as Cubans and Canadians. If it’s so great, go the hell back there.

      • Hubert says:

        Bermuda had figured out how to deal with vehicles on a small island. We really should adopt the exact same rules here because the Bermuda model clearly works.

        However, we just have to get a proper bus system in place first which seems to be a real challenge for our elected representatives.

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        Bermuda also has developed cycling/walking trails, such as the Railway Trail. https://www.bermudarailway.net/trail/

      • Anonymous says:

        …….I presume that is one of the many, many reasons you are no longer living in Bermuda and are living in the Cayman Islands instead?

        Bermuda – the perfect example of what NOT to do!

        The day we start copying them, is the day it is all over………..

    • Anonymous says:

      That proposal I LIKE!

    • Anonymous says:

      I may be wrong…but when a car is imported I believe there is a fee which is meant to cover the cost of recycling and disposal of that car at the end of its life. I think the older it is the more expensive.

      Are those fees actually ring-fenced for this purpose? Because if so then this whole bit with the cars at the dump is a moot point. The money is there for disposal…spend it on disposal and stop piling it up and bitching about the piles.

      • Anonymous says:

        Like all other revenues, gets frittered away and used for mission critical issues like trips to Monaco, severance payments to failed MLAs and now strategy sessions at the Kimpton.

        • Anonymous says:

          Agreed with you until the last phrase! I can assure you that the strategy session at the Kimpton WAS NOT paid for by CIG!

    • Anonymous says:

      Alternatively crush the old ones and send them to the states to be recycled not hard or expensive. You know like DEH actually do their job.

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